Updated: 1:15 p.m.
VOORHEES, N.J. — The firing of Ron Hextall was only the beginning.
The Flyers' front office wasted little time purging other personnel.
Flyers assistant general manager Chris Pryor and assistant coach Gord Murphy were fired Wednesday morning.
Pryor was sent packing after 20 years with the Flyers organization. Interestingly, Holmgren elevated Pryor to director of player personnel in August 2013, but it was Hextall who bumped him up to assistant general manager in August 2016.
Pryor was considered to be Hextall’s right-hand man and one of the few voices the former general manager would listen to inside the organization. Sources say Pryor’s stance was considered too closely aligned with that of Hextall’s. In all likelihood, the new GM would have elected to bring in his own assistant anyway. Pryor joined the Flyers in 1999 as a scout and served in that position for seven years.
It was Holmgren who told Hakstol, “If there’s anything I can do to help you do your job better, please feel free to come and talk to me about it,” following the firing of Hextall and the two sides wasted no time. The decision to fire Murphy was made “in close consultation” with Hakstol Wednesday morning.
Murphy was in his fifth season as an assistant coach working primarily with the Flyers' defense. He was hired by Hextall a year before Hakstol was brought aboard as head coach.
“In discussion between Paul and I, the decision was made based on what we felt was best for our group on the back end moving forward,” Hakstol said. “I don’t want to get into specific issues. It’s about the entire group.”
Fair to say, the Flyers' young defensive core of Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg has regressed in its overall play after showing significant improvements and steadiness in 2017-18.
“He was my first D-coach in the NHL," Gostisbehere said of Murphy. "He helped me a lot, complete my game sort of in some ways.”
Interestingly, in the short term, Hakstol now has personnel decisions within his staff and his roster that he wasn’t allowed to make under Hextall. Placing Calvin Pickard on waivers was a sign that the head coach wasn’t too fond of his goaltender, who Hextall claimed off waivers just prior to the season opener in Vegas.
"That’s a move that we felt we needed to make within our group," Hakstol said. "Picks has done a good job for us. He’s been a guy who’s been a great teammate for everybody in here and has gone in and battled very hard."
However, it’s debatable whether Pickard is even an NHL-caliber goaltender. He allowed four or more goals in six of his eight starts with the Flyers. Hakstol felt the goaltenders already within the organization gave the Flyers a better chance to win.
Anthony Stolarz and Michal Neuvirth were the only goaltenders practicing Wednesday. However, Neuvirth hasn’t been cleared for game action.
Here’s Holmgren’s statement regarding Wednesday’s transactions:
"The Flyers organization has relieved Chris Pryor of his duties as director of player personnel and assistant general manager. In addition, in close consultation with Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol, Gord Murphy has been relieved of his duties as assistant coach. I would like to thank Chris for his dedication to the franchise and contributions over the last 20 years. Likewise, we thank Gord Murphy for serving behind the bench for the last five seasons and helping grow and develop our young core of defensemen. We do not anticipate any further personnel moves in the near term.”
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